Betsy DeVos to make Title IV announcement in Virginia

Joshua Roberts  Reuters
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy De Vos speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference

The Trump administration is scraping Barack Obama's sexual assault on college campus rules.

Men's rights groups have long raised tried to paint sexual assault and domestic violence victims as the true perpetrators.

DeVos's speech ignores, however, the gendered reality of sexual harassment and assault, of which 90 percent of adult victims are women, that an estimated one in five women are sexually assaulted in college, that only between two and eight percent of rapes accusations are false, that most rapes to go unreported and the majority of rapists remain free. In January, during her Senate confirmation hearing, DeVos refused to say whether she would uphold the 2011 guidance.

"A system is not fair when the only students who can navigate it are those whose families can afford to buy good lawyers", DeVos said, referencing the nationwide trend, observable at Cornell, of accused students who take to courts to fight guilty findings in Title IX proceedings. The memo required schools to address sexual violence in order to provide equal access to education.

Worse still, in most of these cases where law enforcement is brought in, no charges are filed, but the accused is later punished by campus authorities.

In fact, for many survivors and their advocates, the problem isn't the 2011 letter - it's that schools aren't going far enough tofollow the guidelines.

DeVos met several weeks ago with both sexual assault victims and men who said they were falsely accused of such violence.

"For too long, rather than engage the public on controversial issues, the department's Office for Civil Rights has issued letters from the desks of unelected and unaccountable political appointees", DeVos said in her prepared remarks, referring to the Obama administration's decision to issue significant directives a few times in the form of "dear colleague" letters from the Education Department.

She explains why in detail.

"For us, this is personal, and traumatizing", the letter said.

What does today's announcement mean?

Candice Jackson, who DeVos selected to oversee civil rights at the Department of Education, once claimed she was discriminated against because she is white. According to a report released on Tuesday, July 25, 2017 by the Journal of the American Medical Association, research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in almost all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

DeVos will speak at George Mason's Antonin Scalia Law School, named for the late conservative Supreme Court justice, according to a source with knowledge of the event and preliminary planning reviewed by BuzzFeed News. "I think that Secretary DeVos spoke in a very measured, deliberate manner about the need for real protections for people accused in sexual assualt on campus, and spoke at the time time of the need to maintain an environment on campus that doesn't encourage it and stops sexual assualt dead in its tracks". Elizabeth Vana, who graduated from George Mason in May, used to give PowerPoint presentations about Title IX to her fellow students.

"One assault is one too many".

She says public input would be sought in developing a new policy for investigating Title IX complaints. Meanwhile, she wants everyone at the university to understand how common sexual assault really is.

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